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What is a Lesson Study?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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Lesson study is a process by which teachers develop and improve their teaching abilities and lesson plans through meetings with other teachers and consideration of their own lessons. The practice originated in Japanese education and schools, and has since become increasingly popular in the US and other regions looking to improve education. Teachers using this practice typically meet in small groups with other teachers to discuss lesson plans and teaching methods that will be used, then compare plans with the actual execution of a lesson in class. Lesson study can also use modern technology, such as the Internet, to allow teachers to compare ideas and develop lessons together in virtual settings.

Although used increasingly in higher education in the US, lesson study practices were initially developed for use in primary and secondary education in Japan. The entire process typically consists of four steps to allow teachers to have a better sense of what they are teaching and how a lesson is taught. The first step is developing a lesson plan for how a lesson will be taught in class. This is followed by teaching the lesson to students in a classroom. Teachers then analyze how the lesson was taught and how students reacted, and then use lesson study meetings to alter the lesson in any ways that seem necessary to make future teaching of the lesson more effective.

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While teachers can use lesson study techniques on their own, the process typically utilizes multiple teachers. A small group of teachers who may be teaching the same or similar subjects will meet to discuss upcoming lessons they have created, providing feedback and ideas for each other. They can also discuss a lesson that was recently taught and work together through lesson study to better understand what was effective about the lesson or how it could be improved in the future. Teachers can also record their teaching on video and view it with others during lesson study, to help find areas of potential improvement in their actual teaching methods.

Lesson study can also incorporate the Internet and allow teachers separated by great geographical distances to compare ideas and work together. There are numerous forums, chat rooms, and social groups on the Internet created to allow teachers to compare ideas and share lesson plans. Teachers can utilize such websites to help generate ideas for lessons they may not otherwise have or to better understand how they might improve their own teaching ability.

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